August 27, 2018

Best Morning Routine for a Productive Day

Time to give your old morning routine a wakeup call.

Think about this morning. How did you feel when you woke up? How did you feel when you walked out the door?

The way you start your day has a huge impact on how everything else will go. Your best morning routine will make the rest of your day better, smoother, happier, and more productive. There are so many things you can do to improve your day before you even walk out the door in the morning.

So how does each day begin, for you? Do you have a routine? Or is each day so varied you can’t even put into words what happens when or where?

Let’s look at ways you can create the best morning routine possible. Transform your morning routine into a newer, better version of itself, so that you can be a better version of you.

When you get out of bed in the morning…

Let’s start by honestly evaluating the strong and weak points in your morning routine.  It’s difficult (if not impossible) to improve if you don’t know what your starting point is. You have to know what needs to change and why.

Start by making a list of your current morning activities. Try to be really specific, from the moment you wake up to the moment you arrive at school, work, etc. Then ask yourself the questions below to dig deeper into what’s working and what’s not:

  • How long does your morning routine take?
  • What parts of your routine feel good? What parts feel bad?
  • Does it feel like too much time or not enough time? If you feel rushed, you might not be giving yourself enough time or you might not be prioritizing the right activities.
  • Are there things you don’t like doing in the morning that could be done another time?
  • What do you want to do in the morning, but never have the time for? How could your schedule need to change to accommodate the new activity? For me, I typically take 30 minutes to get ready, but that’s without breakfast at home, which I want to have more time for and want to be a priority.

There are some things that easily derail a morning routine. The best offense to a great morning is having a good defense against each of these little troublemakers:

  • Staying up late the night before or waking up late. Consequently, you don’t get enough sleep and have less time to do what you need/want to do in the morning. If you value your morning routine and want to make it a priority, it’ll start the night before with some discipline and adjusted focus.
  • Family schedules/commitments. Sometimes this is outside of your control, but when last minute issues come up, the best thing to do is prep the night before as much as possible and create a clear plan for the morning.
  • Work fluctuations and/or travel.Try to bring as many of the elements of your routine with you, even when you’re on the road or waking up at odd times. Think in advance about how you will fulfill your morning needs, so you have time to put solutions in place.
  • Making decisions, even simple ones, that your brain finds too hard first thing in the morning. If you can never decide what to eat, wear, listen to, etc in the morning, make a selection the night before and prep it for the morning.
  • Styling. Have a back-up “go-to” hairstyle like a simple bun that you can fall back on, rather than re-styling again and again if your hair won’t cooperate in the morning. Same for makeup. Don’t get stuck trying to make something perfect that isn’t working. The morning is not a time for experimenting.
  • Sharing spaces (the one-bathroom households where everyone needs to be in the same space at the same time). Stagger wake-up times and/or who is doing what when in shared spaces throughout the house. Can some people shower the night before? Can you do your makeup at your bedroom mirror instead of the bathroom?

What is the goal of your morning routine?

Blanket statements about what you should do in the morning are not right for everyone. What I should be doing and what I want to do in the morning for myself differs from what someone else needs/wants to do during their morning routine.

So think about what you want to accomplish in the morning and why, for example:

  • Prepare a wholesome breakfast or meals for your day
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
  • Exercise or stretch
  • Collect yourself for the day, whether through meditation, a walk, reviewing your calendar or planner, or just have some quiet time before checking email
  • Read the news, a book, etc.
  • Make headway on a personal goal or project

No matter what the goal of your morning routine is, utilize these three tips:

1. You can’t do everything

The reason why knowing the goal of your morning routine is so important is because it helps you prioritize. It helps you say “no” to certain morning habits that aren’t as important to you.

Some people really want their morning to be relaxing. That person might, then, wake up 30 minutes early in order to have time to wake up slowly and drink their coffee at home.

That person is saying “yes” to the things that matter most. They are also saying “no” to things that are less important to them, like making time for a workout, getting a jump on emails, or sleeping in as late as possible.

When you try to do it all, you will fail. Don’t start your day off by failing, or by feeling like you’re failing. Decide what is important and then do that thing (or those couple of things) as completely and fully as you can.

Realize that the things you don’t prioritize aren’t important to you. You’re not failing. You are being deliberate, thoughtful, and smart.

2. Don’t forget how important the night before is

The things you do the night before are little time savers that make your mornings more seamless and give you time to do other things that you’d rather be doing.

For example, I often find that when I really need to be getting dressed and finished getting ready in the morning, I’m still trying to figure out what I will wear that day. I don’t like those moments of indecision (though I try to be patient with myself) or the slowdown in my morning it brings.

Ultimately, I end up choosing something easy, my go-to outfits. So this is one example of something I (and you) can easily do the night before, or at the start of your week: plan your outfits. Take the time to be creative with your wardrobe when it is easier and you don’t have the time pressure to get out the door.

Other tasks you can do the night before or at the start of your week:

  • Lay out or prep your workout clothes. I’ve found that if I pack enough workout clothes for the whole week and keep them in a bag at work, it saves me a few minutes of thought and worry (did I pack my gym clothes?) every day. That time adds up!
  • Prep and put together your lunch or snack, packing leftovers or assembling components of a dish so all you have to do in the morning is grab and go.
  • Make breakfast in advance, like overnight oats or hard boiled eggs and fruits. No early morning decision-making means less wasted time and smarter, healthier choices.
  • Have your bags and items by the door ready to go so you’re not running around looking for your keys, which wastes time and energy.
3. Give yourself flexibility…and options

One of my morning routine goals has always been to get up early and go to the gym before work every day. But for me, it’s like fitting a square peg into a round hole; it just doesn’t happen.

I’ve learned and accepted that although I can’t exercise every morning (it’s not realistic for my life and schedule), I can do it at least 3 mornings a week.

The result is that I have two different morning routines that come into play depending on the day. So give yourself options and the flexibility to adapt. Maybe you establish and incorporate 2 or 3 different morning routines to accomplish all that you want to do depending on your family’s schedule, the season, your work cycle, travel schedule, etc.

Find your best morning routine

When it comes to morning routines, there’s nothing more personal. Because the best morning routine is the one that works for you and make you feel better, stronger, and empowered for the day ahead.

It’s easy to settle and fall into a rhythm in the mornings that won’t prepare you for the day. So make a change. Tomorrow is a new day – let us know how you do! Share with us at hello@inkandvolt.com or on Facebook.

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